We are okay – living with housemates in corona times

Even though sharing a house is not an odd situation for many students, I often get surprised responses when I tell people about my student house. For instance, I live in a unit with 12 others. In that unit we share two toilets, two showers, a loundry room and a living room/kitchen. People wonder if we don’t tear each others’ hair out or if we live in a permanent sea of garbage. But usually it’s not so bad.

Because of corona some of our housemates left for their parents’ houses. When there were only 4 of us left in the beginning, it soon became clear how much support (in Dutch: gezelligheid) we normally get from each other. All of a sudden the house was spotless, but it hadn’t become any more pleasant. The frustrations that we caused each other, were still there anyway. This time around it wasn’t because someone had a crazy party in their room, but because someone was screaming over zoom too loudly. Qué será, será.

One of my housemates told me one day he thought it would take us about one week before we would have a fight. What silly nonsense, I thought, if you would just stop screaming into your phone in the kitchen, all our problems would be gone. We are fine.

Slowly, the renegade housemates came crawling back. As it turns out, living with your parents is no picknick either. Now that we’re almost complete, it started to look like my one housemate wasn’t completely wrong anyway. The situation came to a little explosion when exactly that housemate came to the insane idea to invite 7 friends for his birthday. Big arguments erupted in which scientific falsehoods only added fuel to the fire. Suddenly, the peace was gone.

After some uncomfortable run-ins in the hallway, we decided two days later to set up some ground rules. For inspiration I will share them briefly. We went back to our cleaning schedule, you have to ask if it’s okay before you make a phone or video call in common spaces and you can’t have more than 1 guest over at a time. Technically you’re no longer allowed to visit more than 2 friends places outside of the house, but that rule is hard to enforce so it doesn’t really count.

I can’t say this has made being locked up together a lot easier. What does help, however, is studying, cooking and going outside together. We’re in luck because there’s a basketball court next to our house that we can use because the police doesn’t patrol here like they do at Uilenstede. That situation is of course absolutely ludicrous, but I don’t want to get into that. Be cautious, be aware of the rules and always resist a penalty order (the Dutch strafbeschikking).[1]

If you live with a lot of housemates, try to make the best of it together. If you were looking for a running buddy, a study mate or a hobby club, this is your chance. Be there for one another and don’t suppress irritations. And you will see, after we’re all busy again and racing around the city, we’ll be yearning back to these cosy times with strong feelings of nostalgia.

If you have any problems with your housemates and you no longer feel safe in your home, you can report unsafe housing to ASVA.

See our corona information for answers to questions and tips.

By Anne-Clarine, employee Student housing.

[1]; To get a picture of how hurtful penalty orders can be, see these articles (in Dutch).
Advocatenblad: Crime fighter kan geen magistraat zijn.
NRC: OM legde ten onrechte straffen op.
De Stentor: Advocaat over Lowlands: ‘Ga nooit klakkeloos akkoord met straf vanwege drugsbezit festival’.